Let’s make one thing perfectly clear right now: super-featherweight Manny Pacquiao is “very focused” on his upcoming fight against Hector Velazquez on Sept. 10 (HBO) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. He is so focused on Velazquez – and not on an Erik Morales rematch – that he reminds you of it each time he answers a question.
“My training is very focused on this fight,” Pacquiao said on a conference call Tuesday. “I’m focused 100 percent.”
Again, Pacquiao (39-3-2, 30 KOs) is “very focused” on Velazquez (41-10-2, 30 KOs). No distractions, no overconfidence, no looking too far ahead. Make sure you understand that. Pacquiao is NOT looking past Velazquez at a rematch against Morales.
“I’m just worried about my opponent. He’s a good boxer,” Pacquiao said. “He’s a tough opponent. I‘m focused on my training right now.”
Pacquiao‘s trainer, Freddie Roach, kept reminding us of the hard facts.
“We’re not taking Velazquez lightly at all,” Roach said. “There’s no rematch (with Morales) if Manny doesn’t win. We’re ready to go twelve hard rounds.”
That’s why Freddie wisely chased away all the fans and onlookers from his gym in Hollywood. “We closed the gym for Manny because there were too many distractions,” Roach said. “It got quieter. We had time to breathe.”
Remember. This Velazquez fella is no walk in the park.
“It’s easy to stay focused because I have a hard opponent,” Pacquiao said. “My mind is focused on this fight, on Velazquez.”
Sure it is.
So, Manny, what will you do different the next time around against Morales? Because that’s what this fight is really all about. Getting the two of you together again on the same stage.
You can call it what you want, but when they put it down in the record books, they should put an asterisk next to your names, calling them “tune-up” fights. After all, Morales is on the same card at the Staples Center, fighting 1996 U.S. Olympian Zahir Raheem (26-1, 18 KOs).
Tell me Pacquiao and Morales won’t be taking a long peek at each other from behind the locker room door on fight night.
The planned rematch with Morales, possibly in January, kind of hovers over the two fights like an imminent storm.
“We know that 126 pounds is probably Manny’s best weight,” Roach said when talking about Pacquiao‘s future after Velazquez. “But he wants Morales at 130.”
He had Morales once, the two fighting this past March in a 12-round slugfest. Morales won a close decision, Manny suffering a cut eye early in the fight.
“We didn’t fight the best we could have,” Roach said. “We didn't work the body enough that last fight. We're making Manny more of a complete fighter.”
Pacquiao would like another chance to prove he can beat Morales.
“Manny has a better jab than Morales,” Roach said. “He just has to use it.”
After this fight, if things go as planned, Roach said Manny will take a week off.
“Then it’s back (into the gym) in the Morales mode,” he said. “But both guys (Morales and Pacquiao) are in tough fights.”
Maybe tougher than everyone thinks.